Cohune palm

Cohune palm

So another year turns over, filled with events large and small. We each have passed through our own environments with no choice but to react to the changes in the world around us. For me, 2019 will be remembered with mixed feelings. Loved ones have departed from this world, and dear friends have departed in search of greener pastures. Meanwhile, the collection here at the park carries on at its own pace, reacting to the environment by flowering, fruiting, or even going dormant.

Cohune palm

Cohune palm

This month we have the fruit of the Orbignya cohune or Cohune palm on show. This tall, stately native of Central and South America is a fine example of a beautiful specimen that is extraordinarily useful to cultures in its native range. The seeds yield an oil that is used for cooking, soap making and in oil lamps. The hard shell of the fruit is used to make fine charcoal for cooking, and the fronds and wood used as building materials. Indigenous peoples still process and use Cohune oil in their everyday lives.

This time of year also brings a faint glimmer of the seasonal change that our northern neighbors experience. Our humidity and the temperature lower, stimulating changes in some of our specimens to flower, others to dormancy. I will usually get a few calls this season from homeowners with concern that their Mulberry, or Sugar Apple is sick and dropping leaves. This type of tree is known as Deciduous, meaning “dropping off” and has a dropping of leaves which is simply a reaction to lower temperatures, and/or day length. This occurs so the plant can rest and regroup for the busy springtime ahead.

I suppose there is a lesson in there for us as well. The holiday season is behind us, busy with frenetic activity, hopefully along with plenty of thankfulness and a dose of peace. I suppose we are not all that different from the trees, taking this time to process the events that affected us over the past year, convert them to strength and power, and resolve to be more productive (and better looking) than before. So to all my friends out there, let’s say Cheers! to a new year, and I wish you the best of luck!